Anybody who tells you life is rosy after one spouse leaves the church is either blind or lying. I knew things would be difficult in our marriage after I resigned, but I didn’t know just how difficult it could be. I thought things were under control until I wanted to talk about using some tithing money to help one of my fellow bloggers in need. The resulting conversation was not encouraging. It brought deep-seated feelings of frustration and disappointment to the surface.
With Kindness and Love Unfeigned
I left for work that morning convinced there was no hope for ever coming to an understanding or agreement on fundamental beliefs we once shared in common. I felt badly about the way I had expressed myself. It caused Carol to cry so you know I was wrong. I knew I was wrong in the way I had shared my feelings. We are both stubborn and determined about what we believe. Now that we have diverged in those beliefs, we have lost some of that common ground we once had.
Pink and Blue – Love and Respect
I did a lot of praying and muttering to myself that day. I was not upset with Carol. I was upset with myself for not exercising restraint in my emotions as we discussed the tithing issue. We both attended a marriage class years ago from Dr. Emerson Eggerichs based on his book, Love and Respect. If you haven’t read it, I recommend you do. It is well worth the time and effort. There are some YouTube excerpts of his lectures online that give you a taste of his fun style.
Managing the family Budget
I think we both recognized immediately we were talking past each other. I was using my blue megaphone and Carol was hearing with her pink earphones. I was looking for respect for my desire to spend the tithing money in a way I felt would be pleasing to the Lord – to help a friend in need – and she was hearing me say I didn’t love her anymore. Carol has always managed the money in our marriage. We agreed on that right from the beginning. It seems to have worked.
The Lord Will tell You How He Feels
To Carol, the discussion wasn’t about money. It was about love. I got frustrated, tried harder to make my point. She got defensive, tried harder to test my love. Gratefully, we were able to part for work that morning with a prayer, ingrained from years of habit. We were both emotional throughout the prayer, disappointed to have had such a disagreement after thirty-two years of marriage. As I travelled down the freeway, I knew the Lord was not pleased. He told me so.
Flowers – a Peace Offering
A thought crossed my mind that sparked hope of resolving the issue – flowers. How long had it been since I had brought Carol flowers? Well, it was just a few weeks ago. I got one of those $5 bouquets from someone selling them at the freeway entrance I use every night. But that wasn’t what the Lord was suggesting to me. How about a real bouquet and a beautiful vase, picked out with love and sent with a personal message to her workplace so everyone else could see them?
A Mature and Rational Discussion
That cracked the ice and got us communicating again, although it was via text messaging all day. We both arrived home at the same time. The chilly feeling I had been experiencing for months seemed to have melted. We were both pleasant and cordial, had a bite to eat and then sat down to have a mature, rational, non-emotional discussion about money, faith, common beliefs, temple sealings, Joseph Smith, the Book of Mormon, priesthood, community fellowship and Denver.
Blessings Lost for Resigning from Church
Ah, there was the problem. Anytime I brought up an idea that was outside traditional orthodox Mormon teachings, his name came up. I shared a recent letter from the Bishop I had not shared previously. It was the “Here’s what you can no longer do” letter all priesthood leaders have clerks send out after a disciplinary council. I continued to direct the conversation back to the basic question, “What do you think of this statement from the Bishop about temple blessings?”
Church claims Temple Sealing Null and Void
Carol focused on the obvious. “You lose out on the blessings of regular temple attendance.” We discussed what those are. I asked the big question about the elephant in the room. “What do you think about our temple sealing? Do you believe it is still in force?” Carol became thoughtful and quiet. “I believe if we endure to the end, the Lord will reward us according to our faithfulness.” I told her I agreed but that she hadn’t answered my question. I asked it again. Thoughtful silence.
The Holy Spirit of Promise
Finally, a quiet and tearful, “no,” came forth. “You gave that up when you turned your back on all I thought you believed in about the Church.” I asked what she understood or believed about the Holy Spirit of Promise. We discussed that for a minute. I asked if she believed the Church had the power to control the Holy Spirit of Promise. I don’t think she understood the question. I rephrased, “Do you believe the LDS Church controls the Holy Ghost or the Priesthood of God?
Update: See discussion in comments below about the definition of the Holy Spirit of Promise.
LDS Church Does Not Control Priesthood
“Yes.” Ah, now there’s a critically important point on which we disagree. The priesthood was restored to Joseph and Oliver before the church was organized. The LDS Church relies on the priesthood, not the other way around. It is the priesthood of God. It is not the priesthood owned and managed by the LDS Church. God can give the priesthood to anyone he wants to give it to. Equally important, God can give the Holy Ghost to anyone without LDS Church involvement.
Make Sure Who Has the Sealing Power
Again Carol was thoughtful. “What about the sealing power?” I told her Joseph had it but the higher priesthood was lost sometime after Kirtland and before Nauvoo. She disagreed. “You can’t have it both ways. Either the church has the sealing power or it doesn’t.” We had come full circle to our original dialog about “Passing the Heavenly Gift” from nearly three years ago. I said, “That’s the crux of the matter, isn’t it? We’d better be sure we know who has that power.”
We Can Agree to Disagree
“Well, I believe the church has it,” she said. “And I believe the church has lost it,” I said. We both sat quietly. “Then I guess we’ll have to agree to disagree,” Carol offered. “Agreed,” I said. The atmosphere in the room had lightened. We were in agreement – sort of. The conversation changed to other subjects normal to married couples such as how our workday had gone and how our son was doing. The presence of the comforter was apparent, so different from that morning.
Use Tithing Money to Help the Poor
The next day Carol told me she would let me decide how the tithing money from my paycheck would be used. I reminded her that she qualified for some of that tithing money because she / we have a few medical and other bills that needed to be paid and had been hanging for quite some time. I reminded her that we had used part of the tithing money I previously gave to the Church to help get her car fixed. She remembered and expressed gratitude. The day was starting well.
Knowledge is Different From Belief
I share this with you to set the scene for what I believe are some of the most important questions we can ask in life. “Who has the power to seal a marriage so it endures into eternity? Can we receive a promise from the Lord – not a man – in this life that our marriage is sealed and will be in full force in the life to come? And finally, is it possible the LDS Church could have lost the sealing power as Denver claimed it did in April of 2014? If so, how can we know for sure?”